Best Pubs in Surry Hills

Updated February 2nd, 2022


If there’s any suburb in Sydney blurring the lines of what a pub can be, it’s Surry Hills. How many of the city's boozers stock Japanese beers, serve woodfired Roman-style pizza (as opposed to the barbecue-sauce-on-crusty focaccia kind), pour a national curation of craft beer from 30 rotating taps, or host live DJs with a side of hard-hitting Southern American food?

Reading that, you might think they’ve blurred the lines so much they’re more akin to bars or restaurants. But what makes these spots greats is that they do something exceptional, or something different – but they still feel like a pub. Some are (almost) a peanut’s throw away from another. None are horrific, some are solid and some groundbreaking. This is a guide to help you choose your favourite.

  • This huge two-storey pub – with a popular wraparound verandah and interior courtyard – is one of Surry Hill's original boozers. And after 150 years, you still can't do the Crown Street crawl without a trip to The Clock.

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  • Depending which pocket of the pub you end up in, you'll have a completely different experience. The public bar up front is classic Australiana, while the leafy restaurant-style terrace is a more refined space. The cosy art room is an ideal nook for afterwork dates, and the handsome function space upstairs primed for any special occasion.

  • There's probably two reasons you're going to the Keg and Brew. One, you're a beer enthusiast jonesing for something new pouring out of the 40-plus taps (or just a cheap Reschs like all the other post-work swillers). Or two, you’re headed for the breezy rooftop bar for a cocktail and some surprisingly good views of the city skyline.

  • Along with the Dolphin, the best dining in this list. The bistro is a bonafide Italiano trattoria complete with house-made pasta, Naples styled wood-fired pizzas plus a few inauthentic non-Italiano extras to please the pub-grub crowd. The old pub also boasts a hefty courtyard, which, thanks to the space and generally more professional clientele, is less rowdy than more clustered alternatives in other pubs. There is a party option too, upstairs on the dance floor every Friday and Saturday night.

  • Maybe the only place in Surry Hills which would make a list for good eats, good dancing and good drinks. Eats cover much of the ground between the US and Mexico plus a few better versions of Australian pub standards. Dancing happens most Friday and Saturday nights with local and overseas DJs running the tunes. Drinks are what you want them to be, anything from jugs of pineapple punch and cheap commercial brews to a Malbec from the Harry's cellar.

  • A tiny pub with a fiercely loyal crowd of locals and more history than a Harbourside sandstone brick. All of that, the pub's name and its considerable charm is down to the late Doris Goddard, a former actor who wanted to bring the spirit of the movies and movie stars she flirted with to a casual pub setting. While she may not be around to tell the stories anymore, the walls are clustered in mementos and the showbiz still lives on through the occasional gig.

  • The furthest you can go from being a pub while still being identifiable as a pub. Featuring: George Livissianis designed rooms that are literally plastered in rough paper mâché, a dining room by the team that run Icebergs', pizzas that are suprisingly both Australian and premium quality, a progressive wine list curated by James Hird, the occasional artistic flourish by Tracey Deep, and aperitivo pop-ups with some of Sydney's best chefs.

  • No fancy cheffy menu, no squadron of taps pouring new craft beer creations, no flashy design concept and no edgy list of biodynamic wines. This is an unremarkable pub that's bloody good because of it, and everyone seems to agree. Few pubs in Sydney have such a wide collection of drinkers and eaters. Students with tins of Grifters in the beer garden; Surry Hills veterans with VBs in front bar; families with burgers, chips, a wine and a lemonade outside; and any other pub demographic you can imagine minus the snobs. Whoever you are, whatever simple need you have, Cricketer's Arms is for you.

  • A spot for great value beers and pub feeds.

  • Craft beer is king at this petite Surry Hills boozer.

  • It hasn’t taken long for this back-street neighbourhood pub to attract the locals.